Being Zen-like in Leadership

An eye-opening unintended consequence of attending a Design Conference earlier this year was learning about the negative impact design has had on our environment. Compounded significantly by reading Do Good Design by David Berman and by watching Food Inc I’ve made some changes, like my grocery shopping habits. The ah-ha of why we as consumers must be the ones to change was highlighted again in this quote from Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard:

The Zen master would say if you want to change government, you have to aim at changing corporations, and if you want to change corporations, you first have to change the consumers. Whoa, wait a minute! The consumer? That’s me. You mean I’m the one who has to change? The original definition of consumer is: One who destroys, or expends by use; devours, spends wastefully.

Powerful. Now apply this concept to a situation in your life that you are trying to change. This is not a new idea (see Viktor Frankl’s incredible work Man’s Search for Meaning), and I think of it as true leadership (being the change you wish to see in the world, as Ghandi said). Or in the words of Jim Clemmer from Growing the Distance: The big (and often painful) leadership question is: “What do I need to change about me to help change them?” Instead of just wishing for a change of circumstance, I may need a change of character.

So think about that situation you are trying to change. What do you need to change about you to help change them? To help change the world?